MIAMI — Florida International University Board of Trustees Monday selected Kenneth Jessell, the interim president, as the university’s next president with a compensation package of nearly $1 million.
“I’m very emotional,” said Jessell, 67, right after he got picked. “It’s a little bittersweet because I lost my mother on Friday.”
The FIU Board of Trustees unanimously voted to name Jessell as FIU’s sixth president. They also signed off on an annual base salary of $650,000 and a performance-based bonus of $175,000. His total compensation package came out to $996,081, just under a million, despite some opposition from two trustees.
Now the Florida Board of Governors must confirm the appointment, likely during their Nov. 9-10 meeting at the University of South Florida in Tampa. At that point, Jessell would become the top executive of the largest public university in South Florida, managing about 56,000 students and about 8,000 faculty and staff.
Although the last stretch of the process turned predictable once the FIU Presidential Search Committee advanced him as the lone candidate for the post, Jessell said he never expected any of it.
“I was not intending to be here,” he said Monday during the meeting.
In January, after former President Mark Rosenberg abruptly quit when a woman who worked in his office accused him of misconduct, the FIU Board of Trustees scrambled and tapped Jessell to fill the spot. When the presidential search began, Jessell vowed not to apply, but then said he enjoyed the job so much that he did.
Jessell had been FIU’s chief financial officer and vice president of for 13 years. Before that, he worked for more than 25 years at Florida Atlantic University, a state university in Boca Raton.
Rosenberg, 73, will return to the university in the spring semester, earning about $377,000 to teach one class per semester. He took a one-year paid sabbatical since resigning at the end of January, continuing to collect his $502,578 salary.
• • •
Sign up for the Gradebook newsletter!
Every Thursday, get the latest updates on what’s happening in Tampa Bay area schools from Times education reporter Jeffrey S. Solochek. Click here to sign up.